Opinion

A global role for positive change

Farzana Ali , Trustee , Caretech Foundation

As a Senior Support Worker at Vancouver Road Residential Care Home, working for CareTech plc, and as a trustee of the CareTech Foundation, I consider myself very fortunate to have the opportunity to influence positive change in so many things on a national and international level.

As one of the largest social care and educational providers for adults and children in the UK, the Board of Directors of CareTech plc felt more could be done to deliver meaningful change and impact for the benefit of the social care sector, care workers and those living in care. With this in mind, the CareTech Foundation was founded in 2017. The Foundation has since made significant in-roads in upholding its values to support and champion the social care sector.

Important in driving the success of the Foundation is the innovative nature of its board of trustees; namely the inclusion of two staff trustees, like myself, directly from CareTech plc’s frontline staff.

I became a trustee of the CareTech Foundation after being awarded Support Worker of the Year in the South Region and the Overall National Winner of the 2020 CareTech Care Awards. Winning both awards in recognition for my dedication and hard work in my role is something I am proud of.

Working in a care home is a rewarding role, providing care to people and improving their quality of life on a daily basis. At Vancouver Road, it isn’t just about the people we care for, it is knowing their families are also happy and are confident that their loved ones are being looked after in a safe and welcoming environment. During COVID, it has been particularly important to know that my colleagues and I were able to offer stability to people in very uncertain times.

Being a hands on senior support worker, I am able to offer a different perspective based on my skills and experiences. This is incredibly beneficial when it comes to making decisions around grant fund applications received by the Foundation.

In four years, the Foundation has directly supported some 1,500,000 beneficiaries through four grant channels; Community Grants, Match-Funding Grants, Staff Hardship Grants and Partnerships Grants. The Foundation won the Trustee Board of the Year at the Charity Times Awards 2021 and CareTech plc won the Philanthropy Award at the Better Society Awards 2021.

We launched a £1m mental health programme in Pakistan with the British Asian Trust in 2018 which has reached out to 16.8M people through social media, co-designed a ground-breaking new employability programme for young people in care with EY Foundation, established a first-ever Social Care Action Fund research programme with Autistica and NIHR to tackle under-funding of research related to autism, and completed a successful skills development programme with Skills for Care and the DHSC that secured social care jobs for 171 individuals from under-represented disadvantaged groups.

This success seems unfathomable but it is the Foundation’s commitment to diverse representation on the board of trustees that has taken the Foundation down many positive paths that it might not have considered without the insight and experiences of us as individuals and collectively as a board.

A good example is the CareTech Foundation Staff Hardship Fund. Without worker representation and our suggestions to create such a fund it would not have been developed. Who would have known it would be that very fund that would be a lifeline for so many during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m pleased to say the Fund supported 134 grant applications during the pandemic to a total amount of £97,759. For many this help was significant in helping them move forward without the stress of financial worry.

Care motivates me; it is rewarding to see the positive impact my contribution can make to those in need, which is why it’s important my work continues to drive the Foundation’s mission to support those who may struggle to access mainstream funding.

Through my understanding and heritage, I am able to provide specific cultural insights to ensure we are inclusive but also understanding of the needs of others from different backgrounds. I am very fortunate to have a strong family support network around me that allows me to excel and take on new challenges to improve myself personally and professionally.

Sometimes all we need is a little extra help, whether from our families, colleagues or communities. One thing I’ve learnt is that I wouldn’t be making the positive impact I am without the help of my CareTech family. CareTech plc and the CareTech Foundation have invested and developed me as a professional and as a person. Don’t we all deserve that opportunity?

Looking ahead into 2022, I hope the pandemic and COVID influences won’t limit our experiences or how we support those in need. I hope the Foundation will grow and support more communities and develop more positive environments.

It’s important to me that I continue to help but also inspire people to do more and achieve more professionally and personally no matter their background, experiences or gender. I’m looking forward to accomplishing more in 2022 and building on the successes we have already achieved in such a short space of time. I will be doing what I am most passionate about – looking after the wonderful people at Vancouver Road Care Home and ensuring they have the best care we can provide and offering my insights to the Foundation to help more people this year than we did the last.

 

Edel Harris

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